Ashfield, MA — When globe-trotting Ambassador William Bullitt needed a place to ponder the world and relax with family, he retreated to the woods and fields of his farm on the Ashfield-Conway border. Now, visitors can enjoy those same pursuits on a property that once hosted diplomats and dignitaries, as The Trustees of Reservations welcomes the public to the grand opening of its new Bullitt Reservation on Saturday, October 23rd. Festivities begin at 3PM.
One of 13 Trustees properties located in the Pioneer Valley, the Bullitt Reservation encompasses 262 acres donated to The Trustees in March of 2009. Although most recently part of the estate of Ambassador William C. Bullitt, Jr. —best known for his role as the first U. S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and for his service as the Ambassador to France at the dawn of World War II— the land has deep community roots. The farm even served as Ashfield’s town poor farm from 1839 to1874.
Today, the Bullitt Reservation looks largely as it did in centuries past. A quintessential New England agricultural landscape, it abounds with a mix of forests, fields and streams, which provide natural habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and a diversity of species. It was the wish of Ambassador Bullitt’s daughter, Anne Bullitt, that the property be conserved and the legacy of her father be carried on at the site for the community and future generations to enjoy.
After guidance from local residents and a year of planning, the Bullitt Reservation will now offer a place for the community and visitors to meet, hike, stargaze, and connect with family and friends, providing opportunities for both people and wildlife to interact with and be enriched by the land. In keeping with Ambassador Bullitts’ legacy of looking outward, the Bullitt Reservation will also serve as a resource for learning about ways to lighten our individual and collective impact on land, and to significantly reduce our contribution to the indelible marks that a warming climate will etch on the nature and culture of our local hills and valleys.
At the center of those efforts, The Trustees have nearly completed renovation and a “deep energy retrofit” of the 18th century farmhouse on the property, thanks to a gift from the Bullitt Foundation and a recent $100,000 stimulus grant received from the Patrick Administration’s Department of Energy Resources. Slated as the future offices of the Highland Communities Initiative and the Hilltown Land Trust, the renovated farmhouse will combine readily-available electric heat pump technology (with plans to add solar power as funds are available) and super-insulation to increase energy efficiency, cutting energy consumption by more than 50%. Thanks to the creative energy of general contractor Mary Quigley of Quigley Builders in Ashfield, nearly all of the materials from the farmhouse deconstruction have also been recycled or reused.
When complete, The Trustees hope the new Bullitt structure will have earned Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a building rating system established by the United States Green Building Council to measure the “greenness” of buildings), and showcase a viable selection of energy conservation strategies for area homeowners and businesses.
Guests are welcome to attend the grand opening of the new Bullitt Reservation on October 23rd and explore The Trustees of Reservations’ newest special place, take a tour, and enjoy the views over a potluck dinner with friends and neighbors. The day will begin at 3PM with tours of the ongoing green transformation of the old farmhouse, a guided hike on the new scenic Pebble Trail (moderately difficult), leisurely strolls through the wildlife meadow, and family activities including pumpkin decorating and cider-making demonstrations. At 4:30PM there will be live music, a potluck dinner, and toasts to the new reservation. The Trustees will provide hot soup and fresh bread. Guests are asked to bring a dish, snack, or beverage to share. The event is free and open to the public and will take place rain or shine. For more information and to RSVP, please call 413.268.8219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More About The Trustees in Ashfield
In addition to owning 262 acres of conservation land, The Trustees hold a conservation restriction on the majority of the remaining Bullitt estate land, comprising approximately 103 acres on the northern side of Bullitt Road, which was sold with the main Bullitt house and barn to a private buyer late last year. Together, these complete an important missing piece in a large puzzle of connected conservation land in the area. The Trustees also own and manage two other properties in Ashfield – Bear Swamp and Chapel Brook Reservations – both popular community recreational sites and important ecological habitats. The new reservation will add to The Trustees’ diversity of program and property offerings in this corner of the Pioneer Valley.
More About The Trustees in the Pioneer Valley
Since 2001, The Trustees have been building a stronger conservation presence in the Pioneer Valley region with educational and grassroots community outreach programs and the pursuit of significant land conservation opportunities. Currently, The Trustees own and manage 13 spectacular properties in the region, which include: Bullitt Reservation, Land of Providence (recently opened to the public in May of 2010), Mt. Warner, Notchview, the Bryant Homestead, Dinosaur Footprints, Chapel Brook, Bear Swamp, Chesterfield Gorge, Petticoat Hill, Glendale Falls, Little Tom Mountain (to open 2012), and Peaked Mountain. The Trustees locally operate the Highland Communities Initiative (HCI), a program created to protect the natural and cultural character of 38 rural hilltowns located between the Connecticut and Housatonic Rivers. The Trustees recently affiliated with the Hilltown Land Trust (HLT), which will be headquartered at Bullitt Reservation, along with HCI, once the farmhouse renovation is complete. To find out more about HCI and HLT, visit www.highlandcommunities.org.
More About The Trustees of Reservations Statewide
The Trustees are 100,000 people like you who love the outdoors and the distinctive charms of New England, and believe in celebrating and protecting them for current and future generations. Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees “hold in trust,” and care for, 103 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts.
All reservations are open for the public to enjoy and range from working farms and historic homesteads – several of which are National Historic Landmarks – to formal gardens, barrier beaches, open meadows, woodland trails, mountain vistas, and a Gold LEED-certified green building in Leominster, the Doyle Center, which serves as a meeting space and gathering place for the conservation community. Of The Trustees’ 26,000 acres, 12,000 are priority habitat for 89 threatened species.
Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation movement and have served as a model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. In addition to their network of 103 properties, The Trustees also hold perpetual conservation restrictions on more than 19,000 additional acres (a total larger than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts), and have worked with community partners to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres around the Commonwealth.
The Trustees also work to promote healthy, active, green communities around the state, by providing hundreds of year-round programs and events that inspire people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the history, nature, and culture of the Commonwealth. Most programs and events are free-of-charge or heavily discounted for members.
One of the largest non-profits in the state of Massachusetts, The Trustees employ 152 full-time, 49 regular part-time, and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out how to apply for employment, request a speaker for an event, become an organizational partner, interview Trustees’ experts on important topics and issues, or become a member, please contact www.thetrustees.org.